Notebook: Moore Excited For 2015 U.S. Open in Home State
By Dave Shedloski
VILLAGE OF PINEHURST, N.C. – Ryan Moore is looking forward to next year’s U.S. Open at Chambers Bay in University Place, Wash., which is not far from his hometown of Tacoma. He used to hold a charity tournament on the links-style layout designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., and enjoys the challenges of its fescue grass and emphasis on the ground game.
But first, he has some business to take care of.
“I’d have to say I’d be more excited if I were already in it,” Moore said Sunday after shooting a final-round 76 at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club’s Course No. 2 to finish tied for 48th in the 2014 U.S. Open at 11-over 291. “I had hoped to play my way in this week (with a top-10 finish), but I just didn’t play that well this weekend. I put myself in some bad spots, and if you do that around here, you’re going to pay for it, sometimes pretty severely.”
Moore, 31, a two-time (2002, ’04) U.S. Amateur Public Links champion and the 2004 U.S. Amateur champion, lives in Las Vegas, but he retains a home near Chambers Bay. Though he hasn’t played there often, he knows more than anyone else likely to be in the field about playing near the shores of Puget Sound. Chambers Bay hosted the 2010 U.S. Amateur, won by Peter Uihlein.
“They’re going to try to set it up firm, but you never know with the weather there,” Moore said. “It could be dry and 70-75 [degrees] or cool and damp and in the 50s. I would bet, with the runoffs around the greens, we’ll see it a bit like here, where a miss could really cost you. It’s a fun golf course. I just need to start playing well to get there, and that begins right now with my next tournament.”
Fitting End to Fitzpatrick’s Amateur Career
If 19-year-old Englishman Matthew Fitzpatrick did not announce himself ready for next week’s professional debut at the Irish Open by securing low-amateur honors at the U.S. Open, then his final-round 1-under-par 69 should.
“If I would have missed the cut by a mile, it’s a tough one to then go to my first pro event,” he said. “I think four rounds of competitive golf is always a positive.”
Fitzpatrick, the reigning U.S. Amateur champion and low amateur at the 2013 British Open, was the only one of the 11 amateurs in the field to make the cut in the U.S. Open. He said he will have to assess his week’s statistics before he can draw definitive conclusions about this week’s performance, but he accomplished his main objective.
“My aim was to win the low amateur, and to achieve it is pretty pleasing,” said Fitzpatrick, who became the first player since Bob Jones in 1930 to concurrently hold the low-amateur titles for both the U.S. Open and British Open. “I played with Phil [Mickelson] and Justin [Rose], a practice round with Rory [McIlroy], playing with Louis [Oosthuizen] on the last day. It’s been great and I really enjoyed my week.”
After making the cut with rounds of 71-73, Fitzpatrick ballooned to 12 over for the championship with a third-round 78. He bounced back with a poised final round that included four birdies against a bogey and double bogey. Putting proved pivotal on Sunday.
“That’s what I’ve not done all week and I wouldn’t say it has cost me, but I feel like I could have done better maybe if I would have holed a few more,” said Fitzpatrick, who totaled 29 putts in the final round, his lowest of the week.
Fitzpatrick will attempt to earn his PGA European Tour card by playing on seven sponsor exemptions through mid-October. In addition to the Irish Open, Fitzpatrick is scheduled to play the French Open, European Masters, Czech Masters, KLM Open and Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. He is awaiting word about a possible sponsor exemption into the Scottish Open field, and will try to qualify again for the British Open.
Father’s Day Gesture
As he walked up the 72nd hole on Sunday, Daniel Berger’s caddie, Sam Spector, decided to be a little spontaneous. Noticing Berger’s father, Jay, in the gallery, Spector quickly handed him the bib and bag to allow Jay to loop for his son. And Daniel certainly made it memorable by making a birdie 3 to cap off a 4-under 66, the third-best round of the championship behind Martin Kaymer’s consecutive 65s on Thursday and Friday.
“It was a pretty cool Father’s Day Sunday [with] Dad being here,” said the 21-year-old Berger, of Jupiter, Fla., who played two seasons at Florida State before turning professional. “He doesn’t get to go to a lot of tournaments. He travels a lot. So for my first U.S. Open, it was a great experience.”
Jay Berger knows what it’s like to compete in a U.S. Open, but of the tennis variety. He won the United States Tennis Association’s 18-and-under title in 1985 to earn a spot in the U.S. Open in New York, where he advanced to the Round of 16. He turned professional a year later and now works as the head coach with the USTA, and also served as the USA coach in the 2012 Olympics.
Daniel, meanwhile, has made nine of 11 cuts on the 2014 Web.com Tour, and this week’s U.S. Open experience should help him going forward.
“Obviously, I’ve got to kind of shift my focus back to Web.com,” said Berger. “When you play on such a big stage as this, the Web.com [Tour] doesn’t feel as big.”
Jay Berger wasn’t the only father to enjoy a spontaneous caddieing assignment. Zac Blair also brought his father, James, out of the gallery to caddie on No. 18. James Blair competed in the 1981 U.S. Open at Merion, shooting 9 over and missing the cut.
And of course, there were Fran and Owen Quinn, who spent four days touring Course No. 2 together. Fran Quinn, 49, of Holden, Mass., finished with a 73. Fran first played in the 1996 U.S. Open at Oakland Hills, three years before Owen, 15, was born.
Kelly Mitchum, an instructor at Pinehurst, was called upon to be a non-playing marker for Toru Taniguchi in the final round. With 67 players making the weekend cut, the first player out on Saturday and Sunday was the odd man out. On Saturday, local-sectional qualifier Nicholas Lindheim elected to play solo with USGA Rules official Lew Blakey serving as his marker.
Taniguchi decided to have a non-competitive playing marker. Mitchum is no stranger to USGA championships, having qualified for the 1995 U.S. Open (missed cut at Shinnecock Hills) and reaching the semifinals of the 1992 U.S. Amateur at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio. He also won the 1993 North & South Amateur at Pinehurst.
“I tried to qualify here and didn’t make it through the local stage,” said Mitchum. “It was neat to go out and be able to play this morning, even though it was in a different circumstance than I would like for it to have been.
“I hit some good shots. I made a couple birdies and I made a couple doubles too, but I had crowd support and people yelling my name.”
Ace for Johnson
Zach Johnson used a 7-iron to register a hole-in-one on the 172-yard ninth hole. It was the 2007 Masters champion’s first ace in competition and third overall.
“When I hit it, I thought it had a chance,” said Johnson. “Based on where the pin is you have to err long, and so I was expecting it to land past the pin and release 2 or 3 [feet] and roll down there to 15 feet.”
Instead, his ball caught a side slope on the left side of the green and rolled into the hole. Johnson celebrated by emulating Hale Irwin’s 1990 high-five sprint down the gallery ropes at Medinah.
Dave Shedloski is an Ohio-based freelance writer whose work appears regularly on usga.org and usopen.com. Stuart Hall and David Shefter also contributed to this report.